According to CNN, former New York Jets wide receiver Joshua Bellamy is facing fraud charges after allegedly being involved in a $24 million scheme to use loans intended for coronavirus relief for personal use instead.
Bellamy is currently being charged with fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. His company, Drip Entertainment LLC, allegedly received around $1.2 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) credit, according to the Justice Department. There are currently 10 other defendants involved in the scheme alongside Bellamy.
The former wide receiver was said to have spent more than $100,000 in loan money on luxury clothes and jewelry and $60,000 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Additionally, Bellamy is reported to have withdrawn around $300,000.
Reportedly, the scam started when one of Bellamy's associates obtained a fraudulent loan for his talent management company after submitting falsified documents.
"After submitting that application, (the associate) then began to work with other co-conspirators, including Bellamy, on a scheme to submit numerous fraudulent PPP loan applications for confederate loan applicants, in order to receive kickbacks for obtaining the forgivable loans for them," the Justice Departments' release stated.
ESPN reports that Bellamy was arrested Thursday morning in Florida and was scheduled to appear in court later that day before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher Tuite of the Middle District of Florida. On Tuesday, the 31-year-old was released from the Jets' physically unable to perform list. The Jets organization said it was unaware of the arrest at the time the incident was first publicly released.
Bellamy's attorneys, Jeff and Diego Weiner, explained in an email that professional athletes are oftentimes taken advantage of by people that pose as agents or financial advisers. They are hoping that the public gives Bellamy the benefit of the doubt in the upcoming case.
In March, Congress and the White House approved a $2 trillion stimulus package in order to help small businesses stay open after being negatively impacted by the coronavirus. The PPP allows small businesses to receive low-interest advancements to assist them if they happen to qualify.
Recently, the Justice Department's Criminal Division reported it has charged more than 50 individuals for fraudulently applying for money from the program.
"Unfortunately, the rapid injection of trillions of dollars in PPP loans into the economy has created a very high risk for fraud at a time when many organizations and their employees are already operating under the kind of intense financial pressure that often leads to fraud and embezzlement," John Warren, general counsel for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, told CNN.